The Cairo-based NGO Arab Creators Union nominated the legendary Egyptian-British heart surgeon Magdi Yacoub for the 2020 United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize.
The NGO also nominated Emirati entrepreneur Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan alongside Yacoub, based on a request by the UN to name two figures — one woman and one man — to receive the prestigious award.
The UN’s Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize aims to recognize the accomplishments of individuals who devote their lives to serving humanity, in accordance with the goals and principles of the UN, “while honouring and paying homage to Mandela’s extraordinary life and legacy of reconciliation, political transition and social transformation,” according to the UN’s website for Nelson Mandela International Day.
Yacoub’s medical projects have contributed charitably in several regions, including Egypt’s Cairo and Aswan, Kigali in Rwanda, and Jamaica. Professor Yacoub is the first Egyptian to receive the UK Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II, for his contributions in the realms of cardiothoracic surgery and transplants.
Yacoub founded the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation located along the banks of the River Nile in Aswan in 2008, which aims to promote heart health among young Egyptians through treatment, surgery, and scientific research promoting innovative medical solutions across the region.
The renowned foundation also aims to present a promising generation of doctors to the community by providing comprehensive medical training, particularly in the field of basic, applied and biomedical sciences, according to Impact Journalism Day scientific news outlet.
The Egyptian-British surgeon is also the founder and director of research at the Harefield Heart Science Center, and is currently a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London.
Moreover, the construction of the new Magdi Yacoub Cairo Heart Center, located in 6th of October city, will kick off in February and is expected to open in around two years.
The new center received in February donations exceeding LE 360 million from numerous organizations and public figures during the third edition of the annual ceremony for Arab Hope Makers, an initiative dedicated to honoring people and institutions that pursue humanitarian goals. Additionally, Arab Hope Makers allocated a quarter of the proceeds of its annual ceremony to the center.
It was previously announced that the Cairo Heart Center would be able to a house five times more patients than Yacoub’s Aswan Heart Center, with thousands to be offered medical services there annually.
Regarding the second nominee for the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize, Al-Nahyan is a prominent entrepreneur and a member of United Arab Emirates’s royal family. She is known for her interest in women’s empowerment, education, and culture.
She has overseen several social initiatives, including “Wanna Read?” through which 7,000 books were distributed in an effort to foster a love of reading in children. In light of her efforts to promote gender equality, Al-Nahyan also established the “Women’s Empowerment and Equality Board” initiative, which was recognized by the UN in 2018.
In May 2020, a seven-member committee will announce the award’s winners, whom should not belong to the same geographic region.
Dr. Helena Ndume of Namibia and Mr. Jorge Fernando Branco Sampaio of Portugal were the first to be recognized with the award in 2015.
The award ceremony is set to take place at the UN Headquarters in New York on July 18, during the annual commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day.
Image: Magdi Yacoub (center right) attends the unveiling of a new square and statue dedicated to him in Egypt’s Aswan in November 2019